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VALMONTE vs CA

G.R. No. 108538


January 22, 1996
Mendoza, J:

Service of Summons; A resident defendant in an action in personam who cannot be personally


served with summons may be summoned either by means of substituted service in accordance with
Rule 14, Section 8 or by publication as provided in Sections 17 and 18 of the same Rule.

FACTS:
Lourdes Valmonte is a foreign resident. Lourdes Valmonte is married to Alfredo Valmonte who
is a member of the Philippine Bar and practices his profession in the Philippines. Lourdes’ sister, Rosita
Dimankanta, filed an action for the partition of real property and accounting of rentals against Lourdes
and Alfredo. She alleged that while Lourdes and Alfredo are spouses, of legal age and at present,
residents of 90222 Carkeek Drive, South Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., but, for purposes of the
complaint, may be served with summons at Gedisco Center, Unit 304, 1564 A. Mabini St., Ermita,
Manila where defendant Alfredo D. Valmonte and defendant Lourdes Arreola Valmontes spouse holds
office and where he can be found.

Lourdes Valmonte through a letter, referred Rosita’s counsel to her husband as the party to whom all
communications intended for her should be sent. Service of summons was then made upon petitioner
Alfredo at his office in Manila. Alfredo D. Valmonte accepted his summons, but not the one for Lourdes,
on the ground that he was not authorized to accept the process on her behalf. Then, the summons of
Lourdes were not served upon her.

On one hand, Alfredo Valmonte file his answer with counterclaim, and on the other hand, Lourdes
Valmonte did not file her answer. This prompted Rosita to file a motion to declare Lourdes in default.
Thereafter, Alfredo made a special appearance in behalf of his wife and opposed the motion filed by
Rosita. The RTC denied Rosita’s Motion to Declare Lourdes in default, then the latter moved for a
reconsideration, which was again denied by the RTC. Rosita then filed with the CA a petition for
certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition. Accordingly, the CA declared Lourdes in Default.

ISSUE:
Whether Lourdes Valmonte was validly served with summons.
HELD:
No.
To provide perspective, it will be helpful to determine first the nature of the action filed against
petitioners Lourdes A. Valmonte and Alfredo D. Valmonte by private respondent, whether it is an action
in personam, in rem or quasi in rem. This is because the rules on service of summons embodied in
Rule 14 apply according to whether an action is one or the other of these actions.
In an action in personam, personal service of summons or, if this is not possible and he cannot
be personally served, substituted service, as provided in Rule 14, 7-8 is essential for the acquisition by
the court of jurisdiction over the person of a defendant who does not voluntarily submit himself to the
authority of the court. If defendant cannot be served with summons because he is temporarily abroad,
but otherwise he is a Philippine resident, service of summons may, by leave of court, be made by
publication. Otherwise stated, a resident defendant in an action in personam, who cannot be personally
served with summons, may be summoned either by means of substituted service in accordance with
Rule 14, 8 or by publication as provided in 17 and 18 of the same Rule.

In all of these cases, it should be noted, defendant must be a resident of the Philippines,
otherwise an action in personam cannot be brought because jurisdiction over his person is essential to
make a binding decision.

On the other hand, if the action is in rem or quasi in rem, jurisdiction over the person of the
defendant is not essential for giving the court jurisdiction so long as the court acquires jurisdiction over
the res. If the defendant is a nonresident and he is not found in the country, summons may be served
extraterritorially in accordance with Rule 14, 17, which provides:
17. Extraterritorial service. – When the defendant does not reside and is not found in the
Philippines and the action affects the personal status of the plaintiff or relates to, or the subject
of which is, property within the Philippines, in which the defendant has or claims a lien or interest,
actual or contingent, or in which the relief demanded consists, wholly or in part, in excluding the
defendant from any interest therein, or the property of the defendant has been attached within
the Philippines, service may, by leave of court, be effected out of the Philippines by personal
service as under Section 7; or by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places
and for such time as the court may order, in which case a copy of the summons and order of the
court shall be sent by registered mail to the last known address of the defendant, or in any other
manner the court may deem sufficient. Any order granting such leave shall specify a reasonable
time, which shall not be less than sixty (60) days after notice, within which the defendant must
answer.
In such cases, what gives the court jurisdiction in an action in rem or quasi in rem is that it has
jurisdiction over the res, i.e. the personal status of the plaintiff who is domiciled in the Philippines or the
property litigated or attached. Service of summons in the manner provided in 17 is not for the purpose
of vesting it with jurisdiction but for complying with the requirements of fair play or due process, so that
he will be informed of the pendency of the action against him and the possibility that property in the
Philippines belonging to him or in which he has an interest may be subjected to a judgment in favor of
the plaintiff and he can thereby take steps to protect his interest if he is so minded.

As petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte is a nonresident who is not found in the Philippines, service of
summons on her must be in accordance with Rule 14, 17. Such service, to be effective outside the
Philippines, must be made either
(1) by personal service;
(2) by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places and for such time as the court
may order, in which case a copy of the summons and order of the court should be sent by registered
mail to the last known address of the defendant; or
(3) in any other manner which the court may deem sufficient.

WHEREFORE, the decisions appealed from is REVERSED and the orders of RTC are
REINSTATED.